An Indiana University study that exposed older veterans with stroke to yoga produced "exciting" results as researchers explore whether this popular mind-body practice can help stroke victims cope with their increased risk for painful and even deadly falls.
The pilot study involved 19 men and one woman, average age of 66. For eight weeks, they participated in a twice weekly hour-long group yoga class taught by a yoga therapist who dramatically modified the poses to meet the veterans' needs.
A range of balance items measured by the Berg Balance Scale and Fullerton Advance Balance Scale improved by 17 percent and 34 percent respectively by the end of the program. But equally exciting to lead researcher Arlene A. Schmid, rehabilitation research scientist at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, was the measurable gain in confidence the study participants had in their balance.
"It also was interesting to see how much the men liked it," said Schmid, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Many of the veterans wanted the study to continue or asked for a take-home exercise plan so they could continue the practice. "They enjoyed it so much partly because they weren't getting any other treatment. They had already completed their rehabilitation but felt there still was room for improvement."
Schmid will discuss her findings on Saturday during the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Denver. Her poster presentation, "Preliminary Evidence of Yoga on Balance and Endurance Outcomes for Veterans with Stroke" will be from 7:30 a.m.-11 a.m. in Hall B in the session for Fitness and Performance Testing for Posture, Stability and Balance.
Statistics concerning strokes and falls are grim, with studies showing that strokes can quadruple the risk of falling and greatly increase the risk of breaki
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